ARTIST: Neil Diamond
TITLE: The Bang Years 1966-68
YEAR RELEASED: Compilation
CHART ACTION: Original Albums: The Feel of Neil Diamond #137, Just for You #80.
SINGLES: Solitary Man (#21), Cherry, Cherry (#6), I Got the Feelin’ (Oh No No) (#16), You Got to Me (#18), Girl You’ll Be a Woman Soon (#10), Thank the Lord for the Night Time (#13), Kentucky Woman (#22), New Orleans (#51), Red, Red Wine (#62), Shilo (#24)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: He did some covers of well known tunes.
LINEUP: Neil Diamond + session musicians
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: All of the songs he recorded for Bang Records in one nice, tidy package, and a better value than the two albums he released for that label.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Neil Diamond was already known as a songwriter in New York when he signed his recording contract with Bang Records, and over two years produced these 23 master takes for the label.
It’s an understatement to say that these sides made an impact. It solidified Diamond as a songwriter and a hit producer. More importantly, these are probably the most quintessential pop/rock songs Diamond ever produced. These songs were recorded for the singles market – they had to have hooks, be radio friendly and memorable. Most all of these fit that bill. The only stumbles are the covers that wound up on his first album.
Diamond felt restricted by this – he wanted to become an ‘artist’ and split from Bang, leading to artistic freedom (and lawsuits, of course). He’d sometimes lose the way in the future, and become a punchline for many. Here, though, is the man as he should be remembered.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: Diamond attended NYU on a fencing scholarship. En garde! Also, Solitary Man only hit #55 on its initial release, but clocked in at #21 in 1970 when Bang re-released the single (in their efforts to exploit Diamond’s earlier work).
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.
GRADE: A-: Many of these are pop masterpieces. Skip some of the covers. The deep tracks he wrote are pretty decent, too.